Man says wrongfully accused in diaper caper

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FRANKLIN—Loreze Artis said he commonly gives people rides, just like he did on Thursday, when Eric Bradshaw allegedly asked him for a lift to Farm Fresh in Franklin.

Artis claims he had no idea that Bradshaw, 40, of Franklin planned to steal diapers and baby formula from the Armory Drive store, as charged by Franklin police. Artis also says he was wrongfully accused as Bradshaw’s alleged accomplice, possibly in an attempt to sell the items valued at $233 on the black market for drugs.

“There was no conspiracy,” the 50-year-old told The Tidewater News after spending five days in Western Tidewater Jail since his arrest on Thursday. “I have no criminal record. I don’t use nothing (drugs). I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I gave the wrong person a ride.”

Police Lt. Tim Whitt said all suspects formally charged are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Artis said Bradshaw, whom he referred to as an associate, asked him for a ride to the store.

“I didn’t know of Mr. Bradshaw’s plans,” said Artis, who was formerly employed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Harris Teeter and has two children in college.

He remained in his 2004 Volvo, and Bradshaw returned with a shopping cart and bags.

“He put them in the back seat and said ‘let’s go,’” said Artis, adding that he wasn’t paying much attention because he was playing with his cell phone.

Police said they received a call from Farm Fresh; the manager claimed the pair “left the scene in great haste,” which Artis denied.

Bradshaw apparently asked Artis to drop him off at a home that wasn’t Bradshaw’s residence. Police arrived when Artis and Bradshaw arrived at the home.

“The next thing I know the police ask whose stuff that was in the back,” Artis said.

Bradshaw was charged with grand larceny, conspiracy to commit a felony and possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Artis was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony. He has hired an attorney for an appearance in Franklin General District Court on Monday, Aug. 15.

Artis is free on bond.